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Michael Smith: Okay, I see it's the top of the hour. For those of you just joining welcome to today's webinar, the Internal Revenue Service and Federal Trade Commission presents: Scams, Tax Related Identity Theft and Identity Protection PIN. We're glad you're joining us today. My name is Michael Smith, and I'm a Senior Stakeholder Liaison with the Internal Revenue Service. And I'll be your moderator for today's webinar, which is slated for 75 minutes. Before we begin, if there's anyone in the audience that is with the media, please send an email to the address on the slide. Be sure to include your contact information and the news publication you're with, our Media Relations and Stakeholder Liaison staff will assist you and answer any questions you may have. As a reminder, this webinar will be recorded and posted to the IRS Video Portal in a few weeks. This portal is located at Please note continuing education credits or certificates of completion are not offered if you view any version of our webinars after the live broadcast. Again, we hope you won't experience any technology issues, but if you do, this slide shows helpful tips and reminders. We have posted a technical help document you can download from the Materials section on the left side of your screen. It provides the minimum system requirements for viewing this webinar, along with some best practices and quick solutions. If you completed and passed your system check and you're still having problems, try one of the two options on the bottom of this slide: number one, close the screen, where you're viewing the webinar and simply re-launch it; or number two, click on settings on your browser viewing screen and select HLS. You should have received today's PowerPoint in a reminder email, but if not, no worries, you can download it by clicking on the Materials dropdown arrow on the left side of your screen as shown on this slide. Closed captioning is available for today's presentation. If you're having trouble hearing the audio through your computer speakers, please click the Closed Captioning dropdown arrow located on the left side of your screen. This feature will be available throughout the webinar. If you have a topic-specific question today, please submit it by clicking the Ask Question dropdown arrow to reveal the textbox. Simply type your question into the textbox and then make sure to click Send. We really do appreciate all of the questions, so please add those in. One important note on questions, though, please do not enter any sensitive or taxpayer specific information. Again, welcome and thank you for joining us for today's webinar. Before we move along with our session, let me just make sure you're in the right place.

Today's webinar is titled The Internal Revenue Service and Federal Trade Commission present: Scams, Tax Related Identity Theft and the Identity Protection PIN. This webinar is scheduled for approximately 75 minutes. Today, we'll be covering topics that you can see on this slide. We're going to touch on common consumer and tax-related identity theft scams. Ways to identify methods for reporting and recovering from identity theft. How identity thieves trick their victims into providing personally identifiable and financial information. We'll also touch on the IRS Identity Protection Personal Identification Number Program, you'll hear that referred to as the IP PIN. And then we'll also look at a few other things, how to avoid bad return preparers; resources to protect yourself from identity thieves; we'll touch on the IRS's partnership with the security summit; and lastly, you'll all have an opportunity to ask live questions during our live question-and-answer session at the end. So let's dive into these topics. But first I want to introduce our first speaker. Kelle Slaughter is the Identity Theft Program Manager for the Federal Trade Commission. She is responsible for creating and implementing the agency's coordinated strategy to combat, investigate, and help consumers avoid and recover from various forms of identity theft. Not only does she have over 17 years of consumer protection experience, but Kelle brings a great sense of humor and authentic truth-telling to the table. Kelle, if you're all set, I will hand it over to you. Kelle Slaughter: Thank you, Michael, and thank you all for joining us today. For those of you who don't know us, the Federal Trade Commission is the nation's Consumer Protection Agency. We work to stop unfair, deceptive, or fraudulent practices in the marketplace by conducting investigations and suing companies and individuals who broke the law. We coupled that with education, where we tell people and businesses about scams we're seeing, how to avoid, where to get help and how to report, which is why we are here today. This week marks the FTC's Annual Identity Theft Awareness Week, where we feature a series of free events like this one, focused on trending issues and identity theft, including how identity theft can affect every community, and highlighting involving identity theft tactics. People report identity theft to the Federal Trade Commission, but we know that only a fraction of the people who experienced identity theft, actually report it. In 2021, we received 1.4 million reports of identity theft. During the first three quarters of 2022, we've received over 900,000 identity theft reports. Reports of the last quarter of 2022 are still trickling in, and ultimately, identity theft is a big problem for people in the United States. You may be asking yourself; how does identity theft happen? Based on their reports to the Federal Trade Commission, one of the more common ways that people may have their identity stolen is by a way of imposter scams. In fact, imposter scams have remained the most common type of fraud reported to FTC. In 2021, we received almost a million reports about identity scammers like fake government agents, pretend grandkids, bogus sweethearts and others that took almost $2.3 billion from people across the country, while there are many types of impersonator scams out there. In the first three quarters of 2022, we received over 147,000 reports just on government imposter scams that caused a loss of over $375 million. We hear a lot of people who supposedly gotten calls from Social Security Administration, the IRS, FEMA, Immigration, FTC, or many other agencies out there. In fact, many of you have probably had those pesky government impersonators calling you to pretend that they're with a government agency. They call to get your personal information or your money, sometimes both. Sometimes they give you an employee ID number to sound official. They might even have information about you like your name and your home address. Sometimes they claim you need to pay taxes or other fees. Or they might threaten you with arrest or a lawsuit, if you don't pay a supposed debt. They ask you to pay by debit or prepaid gift card, wire transfer or cryptocurrency. Often times, instead of that one-time payment being their goal, some imposters might want your Social Security number or password because having that information can be even more valuable. This may be a reminder for many of you who are tuning in today. But the bottom line here is that government agencies won't call or email asking for money or personal information or making threats if you don't pay or share your personal information. Only a scammer would do that. The federal government simply won't and we can't take payment by gift cards or wire transfer or cryptocurrency. And, the federal government will never ask for credit card numbers over the phone. So, if someone calls saying they're from the government and they ask for your credit card number, that's a red flag. The government will also never call to threaten deportation, loss of license or arrest. And the IRS does not initiate contact with you via email.

When you get a call from a supposed government agency, and they say any of these things, remember they are scammers, don't pay them and never give any part of your Social Security number, bank account number or credit card number. If you get one of these calls, hang up, even if your caller ID reflects the agency's real telephone number or the name. If you think the call may be real, hang up and call the agency at a telephone number that you know to be correct. That means go to the official .gov website to locate the telephone number. Do not call the number that they leave on your voicemail. If you get one of these calls whether you paid money or not, be sure to report them to us at And government impersonators have been around for a while and as more people get to know their tricks, they're switching it up. So instead of contacting you about a tax debt and making threats to you to pay up, in the latest trends, scammers may send you a text about a tax rebate, or some other tax refund or benefit. The text messages may look legit like this one, and mention tax rebate or refund payments. No matter what the text says it is a scammer, phishing for your information. And if you click on that link to claim your refund, you're exposing yourself to identity theft or malware that a scammer could install on your phone. So, what if someone contacts you about a tax rebate or refund via text? Well, never click on the links in an unexpected text, and that's really a good rule of thumb for all unexpected texts. Again, don't share any part of your personal information with anyone who contacts you out of the blue and always use a website or telephone number that you know is real. Remember, the IRS won't call you, email or text you for the first time. They'll always start by sending you a letter in the mail. If you want to confirm, call the IRS directly at 800-829-1040. You may find out the status of any of your pending refund on the IRS official website. Just visit, Where's My Refund. And then please report unsolicited texts or emails claiming to be the IRS you can forward a screenshot of or the email as an attachment to If you clicked a link in one of these texts or emails and you shared your personal information, file a report at to get a customized recovery plan based on what information you shared. The scammers not only pretend to be the government, they often pretend to be companies that offer employment. So be aware that while you're looking for a job, scammers are looking for you.

Scammers may go to great lengths to get what they want. They advertise jobs and business opportunities online and ads, on job sites and on social media. They make their jobs look attractive by promising high earnings with little work or they tell you, you can start your own business easily and make money right away. Scammers even sometimes set up fake websites to try to steal your personal information, your money or both. They may conduct fake online job interviews and set up phony onboarding portals, where they ask you for your Social Security numbers and bank account number information so that they could supposedly deposit your paychecks. Other scammers may ask you to send money for supposed equipment that you need for remote work, and then they promise to reimburse you with your first paycheck. These are scams. There are several alerts to takeaway here. One, if a company asks you for sensitive information like your Social Security number, before they hire you, or they say that they need you to make an upfront payment. It may be a scam. Two, if you feel pressured to share your personal sensitive information before being hired. That's a red flag. And three, often scammers will send a check for you to buy supplies or other equipment for more than the amount that you actually need, and they tell you to send the leftover money back to the company in the form of a gift card or wire transfer, or they may ask you to send it to someone such as a vendor for supply. Don't do it. It may be a scam. The check will bounce. So, the money that you send is actually your own and it's gone. If you send money to a scammer posing as an employer, contact the financial institution you used to send the money and tell them that it was a fraudulent transaction. Ask to have the transaction reversed, if possible. Whether you lost money or not, be sure to report the scam to FTC at We want to hear about it and we share those reports with other law enforcement agencies investigating these types of matters. If you believe that you shared your personal sensitive information with the scammer, be sure to go to for your personalized identity theft recovery plan, which you will learn about in just a few minutes.

Fortunately, there are many ways to protect yourself against many of the methods that scammers and identity thieves use in order to get your information. I know you're probably doing a lot of these already. But if you're not, they're easy changes that you can make to protect yourselves.

Don't carry your Social Security card in your wallet. Keep it somewhere very safe at home. Shred anything that has your account numbers on it or your Social Security number on it before you throw it away. And remember, we just talked about this when we were talking about government imposters. It applies really to anyone who contacts you out of the blue. Just don't share your account numbers or your Social Security numbers with anyone who contacts you. Keep your personal information in a secure place at home, especially if you have roommates, overnight guests, outside help, are you having work done at the house, you might even consider having a lockbox.

Get your mail as soon as you can. You're going to watch out for any unexpected bills or bills that might be missing. Keep a very close eye on your accounts and your financial statements.

That's one of the best ways to discover credit card fraud, spotting those charges for things you didn't buy. And then it's a great idea to watch your credit reports in all three national credit bureaus, Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion. You can get your credit report every year by law for free from But, right now through December 2023, you can get it for free every week, review each one of them, because they may contain different information, and then dispute the errors on your credit report. Any of those errors could simply be a mistake, but they also could be a warning sign of identity theft. And as we'll talk about in just a moment, you might want to consider a credit freeze, which may help stop identity thieves cold. While online, there are some other easy steps that you can take in order to protect your information.

For starters, you want to use strong passwords, a combination of numbers, letters, upper and lowercase and symbols. Your mom's maiden name, your kid's date of birth, or the last four digits of your Social Security number are not strong passwords. And don't use the same password for different accounts. Use multifactor authentication when it's an option, particularly for your financial accounts, email and social media accounts. When you sign up for multifactor authentication that means companies will require something in addition to a password in order to login to your account, maybe a passcode that is sent through an app, a scan of your face or something else. But this way, if a hacker gets your password somehow, they can't get into your account with the password alone. Keep antivirus software up-to-date. In fact, if you can set it to update automatically, that's a great rule of thumb, you want it to update as soon as a newer version comes out. So, you will have critical patches and protections against security threats.

The same goes for your operating system, be sure that you have the latest version. And then we talked about this before, but again never click on links, emails or texts or social media messages. If you wonder about it, type in the website you know in order to navigate to the information that you're looking for. Don't click on the link in the message. And if you're shopping, paying for something or sharing sensitive information online looks at the lock in the URL bar, as well as a URL that starts with HTTPS. That means your transaction is encrypted.

Remember though, that if a site is encrypted, that doesn't mean necessarily mean it's on the up and up, sketchy sites can use encryption too. All right, I mentioned the credit freeze earlier.

Fraud alerts and credit freezes can be used to help you avoid and to recover from identity theft. They sound alike, but they work a little different. A fraud alert tells businesses to check with you before opening a new account in your name. Usually that means calling you first to make sure you're the person trying to open a new account. Unlike a credit freeze, a fraud alert does not limit access to your credit report. You place a fraud alert by contacting one of the three national credit bureaus; that one credit bureau must notify the other two. A fraud alert is free and lasts one year, and then you can renew it. If you've experienced identity theft, you can get an extended fraud alert that lasts for seven years. A credit freeze on the other hand is the best way to protect against an identity thief opening new accounts in your name. A credit freeze means potential creditors cannot access your credit report. And because creditors usually won't give you credit if they can't check your credit report that means the freeze blocks identity thieves who might be trying to open accounts in your name. It's free to place with each of the three credit bureaus, it's free to remove it and it doesn't expire. You can place a credit freeze even if you have not experienced identity theft. You can even do this for your children and incapacitated adults. Don't let the freeze part worry you. A credit freeze will not affect your credit score or your ability to use your existing credit cards, apply for job, rent an apartment or buy insurance. If you need to apply for new credit, you can lift the freeze temporarily to let the credit check go through. That's free. But you'll just have to contact whichever credit bureau needs to lift it and then put it back in place once you've done applying for credit. You can find contact information for the credit bureaus at Your personal situation will determine which of these is right for you. But you may want to think about a credit freeze if your Social Security number or other information has been exposed in a data breach or misused by identity thieves. And for everyone else, a fraud alert might just give you extra peace of mind. All right, sometimes even when we take all of these steps to reduce the risk of identity theft, it can still happen. The FTC's website is here to help you report and recover. is the government's one-stop shop and offers recovery plans for more than 30 types of identity theft. is an interactive website available in both English and Spanish. That gives you a plan for resolving your identity theft issues along with step-by-step guidance for carrying out that plan. It's very easy to report. You simply follow the prompts. You will put in details of how your identity was stolen or misused and the site then uses that information to create the customized tools you'll need to recover. streamlines the reporting process if you experience tax identity theft, which occurs when an identity thieve uses your social security number to get a tax refund or job. As you see here by the end of six quick steps, you will have created your identity theft report, your IRS Form 14039 and you'll get a recovery plan. Here's an example of an FTC identity theft report, a very important piece of your recovery is a sworn statement that you can use in place of a police report in most cases to clear your credit records of transactions that resulted from the identity theft. FTC makes these identity theft reports available to law enforcement agencies investigating identity theft crimes. Here's an example of the IRS identity theft affidavit Form 14039 another important piece of your recovery. Thanks to a joint initiative between the FTC and the IRS, you can use to report tax identity theft directly to the IRS. In fact, it is the only way to file an IRS identity theft affidavit online. And more importantly, submitting that affidavit to the IRS electronically ensures that it gets to the IRS quickly and securely. Therefore, it speeds the process up for IRS to get started resolving your tax identity theft case. And after you have your identity theft report and submit your IRS identity theft affidavit electronically, you also get that recovery plan with step-by-step instructions for carrying out the plan. Each of the lines here accordions out to offer detailed advice about how to carry out the steps, including links to credit reporting agencies, and others that you may need to contact. Your personalized recovery plan comes with a checklist and follow-up reminders, as well as prefilled letters and forms you'll need to file or send to credit businesses, debt collectors and other businesses to help to resolve identity theft. As you can see on the right hand side of the screen, the system reminds you that you submitted your IRS identity theft affidavit, and it gives you the date that it was submitted. You can create a secure personal account so that you can return to the website at any time to update your plan, track your recovery progress, and get customized letters that you can send to credit agencies, those debt collectors and other businesses to help resolve the identity theft. Of course, you can get a recovery plan without an account, but you can get the full benefit of the website when you do create an account. I've talked a lot about a couple of these websites already. But they're still important, I will mention them again. For help with recovery or questions about identity theft, go to You want to go to to report scams and deceptive business practices you encounter in the marketplace. To learn more about how to avoid identity theft, and all about the other scams you might run across visit, and please share this website with others. You'll find everything from romance scams and business opportunity fraud to getting your free credit report and how to block unwanted calls. You can keep up-to-date with the latest scams and what the FTC is doing electronically by signing up for our consumer alerts at that website. You'll get a couple of blog posts per week sent directly to your inbox so you can stay in the know, and again, share what you've learned and what you've learned here today. Before I turn it over to Michael, I want to mention that we have had a week of events packed with great information for Identity Theft Awareness Week. Many of them have been recorded and posted on various platforms. Take a look at the lineup of events at, there is something for people of all ages, including information for individuals and businesses. Listen for yourself and please share the links with others. Thank you. Back to you, Michael. Michael Smith: All right. Thank you so much, Kelle. Excellent information, very helpful. So, thanks for going through all of that with us.

All right, audience let me introduce our speaker for the second half of our presentation. We are joined by Evette Davis, a Senior Stakeholder Liaison in our Communications and Liaison Division of the IRS. So please join me and welcoming, Evette. And Evette, if you're all set, it is all yours. Evette Davis: Wonderful, Michael, thank you so much. And also, thanks to Kelle, I mean that was a lot of great information, excellent information on identity theft from the Federal Trade Commission. Thank you all so much for joining us today. I'd like to go ahead and pick up on Kelle's remarks and speak for a few minutes on scams and fraud, specifically related to tax administration. So, fighting fraud is a continuous activity for the IRS, primarily because scammers evolve as technology evolves, right? We focus on prevention, and we're constantly working with our partners to provide information that hopefully will help you as taxpayers recognize and avoid those scams. So, let's go ahead and get started and dive in on what's listed on the screen. So, tax-related identity theft started out as a petty crime, right? It was perpetrated by unorganized criminals and dishonest return prepares. But it's evolved into a major enterprise, mainly funded by highly technical national and international crime syndicates. The IRS sees 1,000s of these fraudulent tax scams each year. And the scams tend to rise during tax season and times of crisis like we just experienced COVID-19 the pandemic. So, one thing the IRS does to alert taxpayers is publish an annual list called the Dirty Dozen. Hopefully, you've already heard about these and you've seen these over the years. Everyone can actually view this list on, simply by searching Dirty Dozen. On this slide, you can see just a few of these scams that we have listed as a part of the Dirty Dozen. First up our Email, Phishing and Malware Schemes, folks, watch out for fake emails that look official, and may look like official communication even from the IRS and as well as other tax agencies like the Social Security Administration. These emails are often phishing schemes, specifically designed to trick you, the reader into providing your login credentials, or even bank account numbers and password. Folks don't click on these links in these emails, you're going to be taken to sites designed to imitate official looking websites. And this is all with the goal of obtaining your personal information like Social Security number, date of birth, and things of that nature, which can be used to file false tax returns or even access your financial accounts. Then we also see Fake Charities, right?

Criminals frequently exploit natural disasters and other situations like this current pandemic.

They set up fake charities to try to trick people into making donations or even provide their personal financial information. Another thing you should look out for are these threatening phone calls, I know, we've all been there, right? Please look out for these threatening phone calls, because these scammers are regularly calling taxpayers and they imitate or impersonate the IRS, especially right about this time, right, tax season. They claim to be IRS employees, and they use aggressive tactics and threats to trick people into paying fake IRS debt. The callers use fake IRS names, they use bogus IRS badge numbers, and they may already know some of the details about you as a target, so they seem so legitimate. And also, they can alter the caller ID. And this is to make it look like it's really the IRS calling, but it's not. So please don't fall for it. A couple of examples that kind of come to mind and one is about a victim, who was told they owe money to the IRS, right, and it must be paid immediately. But it can only be paid through a pre-loaded debit card or some type of a wire transfer. Folks, the IRS does not accept payments on preloaded cards or wire transfers. Kelle went over this a little bit earlier, so please remember that. Alternatively, victims may be told they have a refund due. This caller will try to trick you into sharing your bank account number so the refund can be sent to them. The call is fake, and the refund is fake, don't get tricked into giving them your personal bank account information. Remember, scammers try to change tactics. Criminals impersonating IRS agents remain a major threat to taxpayers. So, we should all be alert. There's also a number of scams centered around refund theft. Most refund fraud stems from identity theft. And we'll talk more about that as well. So once data thieves obtain a taxpayer's data, they take it and they use it to file false tax returns and claim false fraudulent refunds. Additionally, on this slide, you're going to see information about non-English speakers. They are now often a target. So, with these IRS impersonators and other scammers, they target groups with limited English proficiency and they base it on their foreign sounding last name. They threatened to bring in the police, immigration officers or other law enforcement just to make them nervous enough to share that information. And they're going to threaten to have them arrested for not paying it. Finally, folks, we have the bad return preparers. These are dishonest preparers will pop-up every filing season. They promise inflated refunds by claiming fake tax credits like education credits or the earned income tax credit. Folks, go to and search for return preparer directory. This is going to give you some tips on choosing a qualified tax return preparer. Now, more than 90% of all data thefts begin with an email phishing scam. Since phishing emails are one of the most common online threats, it's really important to be aware of the signs and know what to do when you receive them. And here are some of the ways you can spot phishing attacks. First, emails may arrive in your inbox that look authentic, right? It might match the style used by your company, or even an external business like a bank that you bank with. But keep an eye out for emails requesting personal information like your banking details or your login credentials. If you think the email isn't genuine, stop. Don't click any links, don't provide any information, just don't respond to it. Search online for the organization's information and contact them directly. Two, phishing emails often come from fake addresses that appear to be genuine. And this is tricky.

Scammers can mask email addresses or simply change one or two characters of a known company. And if you only glanced at the sender's email address, it may look real. So, folks take a moment and hover over the address to examine it. That may tell you if it's from a legitimate source or not.

Three, phishing emails are often very poorly written, a lot of mistakes will be found in these emails. So, if you receive an unexpected email from a company, and it's riddled with mistakes that's a strong indicator that the email is probably a phishing email. Four, be suspicious, anytime unexpected email has an attachment. Clicking the attachment could install malicious software on your personal computer or network. Even if you think the attachment is genuine, it's always a good practice to scan it first, using some type of antivirus software. And five, the messages in phishing emails are often designed to make you panic. For example, the email may claim that your account was compromised, and you need to provide your username and password just to verify this account, do it right now. Folks, this is a common tactic, and it works, because you're more likely to respond quickly without even thinking, if the situation seems urgent enough, right? Again, I'm urging you right now, stop, think twice before responding. If you're unsure, contact the company directly just to make sure it's legitimate. Now, here's some things you need to know about the IRS in general. The IRS doesn't initiate contact with taxpayers by email, text messages, or through social media. We initiate most contacts through regular mail delivered by the United States Postal Service. However, there are special circumstances in which the IRS will call or come to a home or business. For example, we have IRS Revenue Officers and Revenue Agents who make in-person visits at taxpayers' homes or businesses. But, folks, even in those situations, you as a taxpayer will generally have received several letters or notices from the IRS in the mail before you're contacted in-person. Also, the IRS won't threaten to bring in local police. They won't threaten to bring in immigration officers or other law enforcement to have you arrested for not paying. And please understand this, the IRS can't revoke your driver's license, they can't revoke your business license or immigration status. The IRS will never ask you to make a payment using a prepaid debit card, gift card or wire transfer. And, finally, the service will never call or email you asking for user IDs and passwords. Now, I'd like to discuss some of the signs of tax-related identity theft. So, I talked about some of the common ways taxpayer's identity could be compromised. So, what can scammers do with your name, your address and taxpayer identification number once they get it with respect to the IRS. So, the most common thing they do is try to electronically file a fraudulent return before you file your own return.

of a tax-related identity theft until they go to electronically file their own return, and it Now, in most cases, the legitimate owner of that Social Security number will be totally unaware rejects. And this is because the IRS' system already shows a tax return filed for that Social Security number. If you're unable to file electronically, because someone else has already filed under your Tax Identification Number, then you're going to need to mail your return to the IRS and attach a Form 14039. This is an identity theft affidavit. The form is available on

The IRS will then place your case into the Identity Theft Victim Assistance Program. They're going to research and resolve your case, verify your identity, then issue any legitimate refund and place you in the Identity Protection Personal Identification Number Program. We're going to talk a little bit more about that a little later. Now, the IRS also identifies returns that could potentially be fraudulent returns. If the IRS believes a return is fraudulent, and you could potentially be a victim of identity theft. The IRS is going to send the letter advising that we have a questionable return with your identifying information on it. The letter will ask if the return is yours. And if it is your return, we'll then ask you to verify your identity by phone, online or in-person. The degree of risk determines the method we're going to use for you to verify your identity. Upon verification, we'll release the legitimate tax refund. If you advise the IRS that the return is not yours, we'll clear out your tax account so that we'll be able to accept a paper return from you. In this case, there would be no need to file the identity theft affidavit because we already know you're a victim, right? So, now, let's go ahead and continue on this slide. You may receive a notice stating that you owe additional tax or collection action may have been taken for a year that you didn't even file a tax return for. These both are another sign of identity theft, and you should immediately respond using the contact information on the notice. Now, there are instances where fraudsters will use your Social Security number with employers in order to obtain jobs. Or they may apply for and receive taxable benefits like unemployment compensation from the government. The employer or agency reports that income or taxable benefits to the IRS. The IRS then compares it to your filed return, and they will send you a notice for additional taxes due, because the income appears to be unreported. Again, you should immediately respond using the contact information on the notice. You should also notify the employer or the agency that issued the information return and explain to them that someone stole your identity and that you don't work for that employer or you didn't apply for those benefits. Now, if someone received emails from anyone, including IRS imposters asking for personal information like Social Security numbers, or bank information, as well as a birth date, and this is with respect to something like the economic impact payment, those stimulus payments or any other type of ploy, the message should be forwarded to is on the screen, Also, if you're a victim of identity theft, you can use the Federal Trade Commission's one-stop resource for identity theft reporting and recovery and that can be found at If a taxpayer experienced the theft of stimulus payment or the economic impact payment, or assessment of their tax refund, either by direct debit or due to a scam like an IRS imposter, who may call you, then they should contact the Treasury Department's Inspector General Office. Okay, folks, during the Federal Trade Commission portion, they talked about a lot of information. But did you know that the Federal Trade Commission has an Identity Theft Awareness Week. In this, we encourage individuals, businesses and tax professionals to during this week to secure their sensitive financial data. With that in mind, let's talk a little bit about our Identity Protection PIN or the IP PIN. So, what is an IP PIN? An IP PIN is a six-digit number that prevents someone else from filing a tax return using your Social Security number, or Individual Taxpayer Identification Number. Even people like some seniors, who no longer have a filing requirement can benefit from having an IP PIN, because it can protect your Social Security number and prevent someone from filing a fraudulent return without your knowledge. If you have an IP PIN, it must be entered on your tax returns, and it must be entered correctly. This is whether you file a return electronically or by paper. The system will reject your return without the correct IP PIN. The good news is with an IP PIN, it will also reject any fraudulent returns using your Social Security number. That IP PIN is going to prevent fraudulent returns. So, any paper returns filed without the correct IP PIN will undergo additional scrutiny and any fraudulent returns will be removed from your account. The IRS will verify that the return is yours and then continue to process it. So how can taxpayers prevent scammers from filing false refund returns with stolen information? Well, folks, we've been working on that for a long time.

And for the last 10 years or so the IRS has provided these Identity Protection PINs or the IP PINs. Effective January 2021, the service started allowing taxpayers, nationwide, to opt-in to the IP PIN program. And we hope that you will consider doing that as well. The IP PIN is known only to the taxpayer who can then provide it to their tax preparer and the IRS. This IP PIN changes every year. So, each January, taxpayers get a new IP PIN valid for that calendar year.

The taxpayer or their trusted tax preparer simply enter that six-digit number, because they're going to be prompted by that tax preparation software. Or if they're filing by paper, you're just going to write it on the signature line. Now, I want to share some important reminders and tips for the IP PIN. If you are a confirmed victim of ID theft, the IRS will mail you a letter CP01A. And this is a notice with your new IP PIN, and they're going to mail this each year. If a taxpayer opts into the IP PIN program, and you choose to get an IP PIN, you're not an identity theft victim, but you choose to opt-in to the program through the online tool, then you're going to need to return to beginning January of each year to get a new IP PIN so that you can file your current calendar year tax return. You will need to enter that IP PIN to avoid any type of processing delays or rejections of your tax returns. Never ever share your IP PIN with anyone other than your tax return preparer at the time that they are filing your returns. The best way to enroll into the IP PIN to get the IP PIN is using the online platform. However, we know that everyone is not tech-savvy, everyone does not have access. So, if you're unable to enroll online, then there are options. Please consider enrolling by using Form 15227, which is an application for an IP PIN, you can send that in by mail. Or you can schedule an in-person meeting at a local taxpayer assistance office. All taxpayers, including dependents should keep their address up-to-date, because with an IP PIN that last known address is where the IRS is going to send that new IP PIN each year. You can change or update your mailing address, file the Form 8822. Go to to secure Publication 5547 and this is all taxpayers are now eligible for Identity Protection PIN information, that's the publication there, and this is to get additional details about the IP PIN. Okay, Pub. 5547. Okay, folks, please listen up very carefully, because this is important. I want to say this once again, I know, Kelle said it, and I said it earlier as well. No one will call, email or text, certainly not the IRS to request a taxpayers IP PIN. Thieves try very hard to get taxpayers' IP PIN. So, you as a taxpayer must keep them secure. That's why it's very important that you not share your IP PIN with anyone, but your trusted tax return preparer. If a taxpayer forgets or loses their IP PIN, then you can always use the online tool to recover it. If the IP PIN is obtained by paper application, the taxpayer will be mailed a new IP PIN around December or so to use in the next calendar year. So, in this scenario, taxpayers should remember to update their addresses, as I mentioned. Please keep your addresses updated with the IRS, if you move and you're going to use Form 8822. As I mentioned earlier, the IRS receives reports of dishonest or questionable return preparers every year. Sometimes these are simply tax preparers who don't understand taxes, but we also see preparers who mislead people into taking credits or deductions that they're not entitled to. And some that commit outright fraud and identity theft. And that's unfortunately why bad return preparers were on the IRS' Dirty Dozen list in 2022. This particular slide shows some indications that a tax return preparer may not be honest or legitimate. One thing you should remember is that all return preparers are legally required to register with the IRS with a Preparer Tax Identification Number or their PTIN. And they're required to include that PTIN and sign the returns they prepare as paid preparer. So, when you're choosing a tax preparer, ask if they will be signing the tax return as the preparer and then ask for proof of their PTIN number, they'll probably be shocked that you're asking this. If they won't sign the tax return as the pay preparer or won't provide their PTIN, they may be someone we call a ghost preparer, someone who is not following the rules. Here's some additional indicators to watch out for. Again, remember not signing the return is our red flag, so stop. You can actually go to and search How to Choose a Return Preparer. And this is going to give you tips and tools to help you select a good return preparer. You can report a questionable preparer to the IRS by using Form 14157 and this is a tax return preparer complaint. Folks, because this is so important, I just want to go ahead and reiterate Kelle's tips for preventing online identity theft. First, again, don't respond to emails that ask for your personal or financial information. Please don't click on any links within these emails. And next, you should always use a reputable and up-to-date antivirus and anti-spyware software and use the latest version web browser. Also, folks change your passwords often and keep them safe. I know we've got a lot of passwords that we have to remember. But just make sure you change them often and keep them safe. Select tough security questions to verify your accounts. And be sure to backup critical personal information on external media. Limit the amount of personal information you make available when using social networks. Nothing is more enticing to a thief than knowing that you'll be on vacation out of the state with your family for a few weeks. Stop doing that. Ensure the appropriate privacy settings are there to help prevent social engineering. Visit,, and

These are a couple of resources for great information on protecting yourself against identity theft. Now to conclude, I'd like everyone to know that we here at the IRS take this issue of identity theft very seriously. Not only to protect the revenue, but to protect the taxpaying public as well. At the outset, I mentioned that the IRS works with various partners to develop identity protection strategies and technologies all to prevent fraud, specifically refund fraud.

This partnership called the Security Summit consists of the IRS and more than 60 state tax agencies and the community. And this community includes tax preparation firms, software developers, payroll and tax financial product processors, as well as tax professional organizations and financial institutions. The efforts of the security summit resulted in an 80% drop in reported cases of tax-related identity theft over the last four years, as well as over $28 billion in fraudulent refunds that were stopped or recovered by partners. And for more resources and guidance and information, please go to Identity Theft Central at So, for everyone attending today, I really hope this information was helpful, and that you'll have a better idea of the schemes and scams used by criminals to engage in tax-related fraud, and that you have an idea of what to do if it happens to you. Okay, Michael, that concludes our presentation. I'll turn it back over to you. Michael Smith: Thank you so much, Evette. Hello, everyone. Again, it's me, Michael Smith, and I will now be moderating our question-and-answer session. Now, before we begin the Q&;A session, I do want to thank everyone for attending today's presentation on Scams, Tax Related Identity Theft, and Identity Protection PIN. Now, earlier, I had mentioned we want to know what questions you have for our presenters, so here is your opportunity. If you haven't input your questions, there is still time, go ahead and click on the dropdown arrow next to the Ask Question field. And simply type in your questions there and make sure to click Send, because we have both Kelle and Evette staying on with us to answer your questions. One thing before we start, we may not have time to answer all the questions, but we will answer as many as we get to in the time allowed; and just a personal note, all of these questions are extremely important and helpful to us, because they help us build and improve these webinars in the future. We want to know what you are asking about. So even if we don't get to your question, please type it in there. All right, let's get started. So, we can get to as many questions as possible. Okay, a number of the questions kind of focus on one topic.

So, both Kelle and Evette, let me pose this question to both of you. I hope that that works out for us. So, Kelle - well, let me read this question, and then Kelle, I'll ask you for the first response. So, the question reads, what can I do to protect my child's identity? And what should I do if my child's identity has been used on a fraudulent tax return? So, Kelle, can you address the first part of that question? What can I do to protect child's identity? Kelle Slaughter: Absolutely. Thank you so much for that question, Michael. It's a very important one. Fortunately, parents and guardians have a few things that they can do to reduce the chances of their child's identity being compromised. One, you want to limit the exposure or the use of your child's Social Security number. I mean, parents, you don't have to share with everybody who asked for it, don't share with those that don't necessarily need it. If a person asks you to provide it, check to see if there is an alternative option for verification like their report card. Two, we've discussed this earlier, consider a credit freeze. A credit freeze is available to anyone, including children and incapacitated adults. It's the best way to protect against an identity thief opening new accounts in your child's name. And three, a sign of a possible child identity theft is the influx of credit card offers in your mailbox. So, because they will start to generate it if a thief tries to attempt to open an account in your child's name. So, we encourage you to keep an eye on your mailbox. If you start to see those credit card offers come-in in your child's name, be concerned and go ahead and take the appropriate actions. And then lastly, get involved - and I don't want to say, lastly, I'm going to say get involved in your child's online activity. Talk to your children about boundaries, when they meet people online, no matter how old the person is. Let them know never to share identifying information like your home address and Social Security numbers, or even answers to some of your security questions. And then, for the second part of this question, I'm going to let IRS give you more details. But certainly, if you experienced identity theft, go to for your personalized recovery plan and to report. Michael. Michael Smith: Okay. Thanks, Kelle. Yeah, good tips. And okay, Evette, yeah, I can direct the second part of that question to you. So let me just read that again. What should I do if my child's identity has been used on a fraudulent tax return? Evette Davis: Yeah. Thanks, Michael. And Kelle, I'm just going to say this right now. I sure wish I had known all of these tips and things to look out for when my kids were younger. I would have paid a little closer attention to those credit card offers coming in the mail. Because we - I do remember getting a lot of those, right? So, what should I do if my child's identity has been used on a fraudulent tax return? The short answer is you need to be contacting the IRS. And there is a specific number that you can actually call, I'm going to share some more information in a little bit, but 1-800-908-4490, by calling that number, they can take steps to immediately secure your child tax account and social security number. There are also additional options that you can take online.

I've wanted to just say a little bit more about this. I'm not sure how you knew or realize there was a problem. But if you, for example, you filed your tax return and got a message saying that you're dependent on your return had already used their Social Security numbers; already been claimed or filed on another return or on their return, you need to contact the IRS immediately.

Another way you may know something is up, if the IRS sends you a notice. And sometimes the IRS will send out notices CP87A. And when you get that, please respond immediately to the IRS, you're going to need to verify information on that form to make sure that what you entered is correct for your dependent that you claim on your tax return. Equally important, I want to tell you that if you don't know if anyone who would have claimed that dependent like an ex-spouse, for example, then your dependent may be the victim of identity theft. Okay. What we've been talking about, at the IRS have a guide to identity theft on And there's some steps there that you can use to help you hopefully, take a little bit more control. Especially there are steps that you need to know about if you feel your child's identity has been stolen, and I'll briefly go through these steps. All right. There are three primary steps to claim your dependent or to check things to make sure your dependent is safe. If your child has been the victim of identity theft, the Social Security number has been used then you're going to have to likely file a paper return.

Okay. You're going to file a paper return to claim that dependent and mail it into the IRS. Now your refund will be delayed. But this is only because the IRS is going to be investigating your case. All right, paper returns can take up to, from six to eight weeks for IRS to process. The other thing is you're going to need to prove that you're entitled to claim that dependent, right?

There's a Form 886-H-DEP. And this is going to provide a comprehensive list of supporting documentation that's going to assist the IRS in resolving your case, we get this question all the time, what do we need? How can I prove that I'm entitled to my dependents, you may be - you may have to secure copies of birth certificates, some type of proof of identity or documentation to show that your dependent live with you at the same address more than half the calendar year, school records, medical records, daycare records, maybe even social service records, medical information things of that nature, that can show proof that the dependent that you're entitled to that dependent. Okay. The third thing I want to add to this is, when you get a letter from the IRS, please respond immediately. Because if this is the case, then you and your child has been a victim of identity theft, and they're trying to process the paper return and get things sorted out a couple of months after you file that paper return, the IRS is going to begin to determine who's entitled to claim that dependent, right? The other person who claimed the dependents will get a letter from the IRS, the same letter you received. And if one of you do not file an amended return or file a return that removes the child-related benefits or the child as a dependent, then they're going to make the determination as to who is entitled to get that child.

All right. In that case, you're going to go through something, it's going to seem like an audit of source. And it's basically what it is. And again, in that audit, they're going to require you to provide proof that you're entitled to claim that dependent. All right. So please make sure if you get something from the IRS, trying to prove that your child, you're entitled to claim your child, please respond immediately. Okay. There are a lot of resources that we have on our webpage, there is specifically something that says Identity Theft for Dependents that will be a great, great resource for you, as well as Publication 501. That speaks to dependents, filing information, things of that nature that talk about your rights relative to your dependent. Long response, but great question. That's all, Michael. Michael Smith: Thanks so much, Evette. No, that's what you covered everything, we could have wanted to know on that question. That was great. Thanks for being so thorough. No, it really does help. Okay, next question. Kelle, this one, I think is a great question and probably affects a lot of people. Let me read this out for you. So, there is lots of help available online for identity theft. But what about our senior citizens that may not have access to the internet, or they're just not computer literate? If they find that their identity has been stolen? Do you have any advice for those senior citizens or just others without computer internet access? Kelle Slaughter: Yes, we do. Thank you, Michael.

Each week, the FTC assists thousands of individuals reporting identity theft through our toll free hotline as well as a dedicated website I've been talking about at And the caller receives one-on-one guidance from our trained personnel on steps that they can take in order to prevent or to recover from identity theft. That toll free number to reach us directly is 1-877-438-4338, again, 1-877-438-4338. We are happy to assist them directly if they're with their concerns regarding identity theft. Additionally, we distribute a wide variety of consumer educational materials to help them to spot, avoid and to recover from identity theft. We partnered with AARP as well as the identity theft resource center to distribute some of these in doing presentations across the country. So, if it's a situation, where the individual is maybe sight impaired, then you would want to go ahead and default to that phone number. As well as we've been talking about Identity Theft Awareness Week, we have a podcast that we partnered with the Maryland Library for the Blind in order to be able to talk to people who are sight impaired in order to be able to go ahead and give them the resources that they need. But we have several ways that we reach out to older adults, we're always happy to do so and we have many, many other resources. Go ahead and sign up for the alerts as being the parent or child of an older adult, download that consumer alert and get those alerts which we'll be able to tell you exactly where we're holding things for older adults, and they'll be able to get the information that they need. Thanks, Michael. Michael Smith: All right. Great. Thanks, Kelle. Okay, let me go back to, Evette, with an IRS-related question. So, Evette, this question reads has the ability to opt-out of the IP PIN program for future years been added yet? Let me know if you can get that. Evette Davis: No, Michael. Yeah, the opt-out option that's the question we've been getting. And we've got it ever since the IRS started issuing IP PINs. And as of today, unfortunately, the answer is still no. There are no options to opt out of the IP PIN today, and we are not sure I don't have a crystal ball with me, Michael. So, I don't know what the future holds, but as of right now, unfortunately, no. Once you opt-in to get the IP PIN, you are going to be required to use that IP PIN every single year and to request it, if you opted in voluntarily, or it will be mailed to you by the IRS that will be generated automatically towards the end of December, beginning of January. If you are a victim of tax-related identity theft, your IP PIN will be sent to you. So, no option to opt-out, Michael. Nope. Sorry. Michael Smith: Okay. Well, thanks for clarifying at least that gives us a good answer. All right, Kelle, looks like we are getting a little short on time. Let me get one more question from you. And so, this one is more of an opinion question, but it's pretty simple. Is credit monitoring worth the money? Kelle Slaughter: Oh, wow. That is a great question actually. There are some great credit monitoring services out there, and that will alert you to changes involving your credit report. However, when shopping, keep in mind that credit monitoring is a reactive resource. Today, we've talked about two options that are available to you for free, that are proactive approaches to protecting your credit. As I described, the fraud alert to you before an account is opened in your name by requiring the business to verify that it's you opening the account first. A credit freeze on the other hand stops access to your credit report. So, no new accounts can be opened using your personal information without you lifting the freeze. Again, both of these options are free to you and they're proactive. Which of these free options is best depends on your personal situation, as well as any use of a credit monitoring service. Thanks, Michael, for that question. Michael Smith: All right. No, thank you, Kelle. All right, Kelle, you bet. Thank you both, again, we're going to wrap up the Q&;A. Audience, it's all the time we have for questions. Before we close the final session here, Kelle, do you have any key points that you want the attendees to remember from today's webinar? Kelle Slaughter: Yes, thanks, Michael. Please, you all remember to be aware when someone calls you out of the blue attempts to get you excited or get you scared, or they asked you immediately to make payments by wire transfer, prepaid gift cards or cryptocurrency.

These are all red flags used often in a variety of scams not just employment or tax identification and tax scams. If you recognize any of these red flags, you can be able to avoid older methods that scammers use and some of the new stuff. You want to verify who is contacting you by going online to research before you act, and speaking of being online, be sure to use strong passwords and multifactor authentication, when it's available to you. Do consider a credit freeze for you, your children and incapacitated adults. It's free. And if you should experience identity theft, we hope you don't, but go to to report and file your identity theft concerns and get your personalized recovery plan. Thank you, Michael. Back to you. Michael Smith: All right. Thanks, Kelle. And Evette, same question for you. Do you have any key points for our attendees? Evette Davis:Of course, I do, Michael, I just have a few I want to mention.

Okay, so folks, with tax professionals or preparers, they should read the Dirty Dozen lists every year. It's really quick, easy and simple to - easy way to kind of stay aware of the most common scams that are out there. So not just tax professionals, but taxpayers in general, you should know about these things. Folks stay skeptical of any emails, text messages, or social media messages coming from anyone claiming to be an IRS agent. Now, while IRS agents will communicate with you over the phone and through email, once they've already contacted you, they will not initiate contact using any of these methods. Again, folks, if you receive some type of a scam, email, or you or your client are victims of tax-related identity theft, please report it. You can do this very easily. At the IRS, we view tax professionals as partners. And we need you to report these scams when they happen. I also want to encourage everyone to obtain an IP PIN. And when you get it, do not share it, keep it secure, because it's going to be the best way individuals can protect their accounts. Just a few more, Michael, I want to share with everyone.

Folks, you need to know the signs of a dishonest return preparer. They're not a lot, but they are out there. Also make sure that your return preparer signs your return and provides a Preparer Tax Identification Number, you can visit to learn more about the awareness campaigns. You can also find news events and announcements there. And lastly, the IRS has a ton of publications available to help you stay safe when filing your tax return. The publications listed on the screen are also available on in PDF format. All right, Michael, that's all I have. Back over to you. Michael Smith: Okay. Thank you, Evette and Kelle, again. All right, audience we are planning additional webinars throughout the year. To register for all upcoming webinars please visit Use that keyword search, Webinars, and select Webinars for Tax Practitioners, or Webinars for Small Businesses. We do invite you to visit our IRS Video Portal at There you can view archived versions of all of these webinars. Today's webinar had a number of specific phone numbers, specific websites, don't feel like you have to remember all of those, you can view this webinar, it will be recorded.

Continuing education credits or certificates of completion are not offered, if you view any archived version of any of our webinars on that IRS Video Portal. Again, a big thank you to our FTC partner, Kelle Slaughter and to Evette Davis for a great webinar today and for sharing your expertise. And thanks again to you, the audience for attending today's webinar, Internal Revenue Service and Federal Trade Commission presents: Scams, Tax Related Identity Theft and Identity Protection PIN. We would appreciate it if you'd take a few minutes to complete a short survey before you exit. If you'd like to have more sessions like this one, please let us know. If you have thoughts on how we can make them better, please let us know that as well. If you have requests for future webinar topics or information that you'd like to see in an IRS Fact Sheet, a Tax Tip or an FAQ on, include those suggestions in the comment section of the survey.

Those are truly very helpful to us. So simply click the Survey button on the screen to begin. And if it doesn't come up, just check to make sure you've disabled your pop-up blocker. It's been a pleasure to be here with you, and on behalf of the Internal Revenue Service and our presenters, we would like to thank you again for attending today's webinar. We hope you found the information helpful and you may exit the webinar at this time.